Are Lizards Dangerous?

Reptile owners have long dealt with controversy that comes with ownership of a cold-blooded pet. Some species of lizards are called "monsters" far too often. From blockbuster cinemas like Godzilla or V, audiences have been convinced of the lizard's guilt before any crimes have been committed. 

That being said, let's get to the truth about whether or not lizards are actually dangerous. 

Some conspiracy theorists think that lizard people rule the world. But, in reality, lizards are not as dangerous as you might think. In fact, there are 4,675 different species of lizards, many of which are helpful toward humans. 

For the most part, lizards are not harmful to humans. Even the largest of lizards - the Komodo dragon, which weighs over 150 pounds, is relatively harmless. They live on a remote Indonesian island and aren't frequently seen by humans. 

Komodo Dragon
Komodo Dragon

Wherever a lizard might live, across six of Earth's great continents, they eat insects. Therefore, they can be very helpful for pest control, especially when it comes to the health of gardens or crops. Plus, if you're not a fan of bugs, it's actually really helpful to have a lizard around to gobble them up!

One of the reasons that lizards often get a bad rap is because, upon purchase of a lizard, many owners do not understand the time or financial investment they're getting themselves into. 

Caring for a lizard requires buying insects for food, maintaining specialized lighting to regulate your lizard's body temperature, and caring for your pet for up to 20 years! Most people who buy a lizard aren't ready for this responsibility and will release them into the wild. When this happens, these domestic lizards can reign terror on an ecosystem. They can kill helpful bugs for food and throw everything into disarray. 

There are also a few species of lizard that are venomous, which could be another reason why they have a bad rep. That being said, these venoms are often used by scientists in many experiments. In fact, research of these venoms have yielding proteins that are capable of treating blood clotting disorders! 

Saliva from lizards has also been found to contain compounds that can help treat diabetes! 

Clearly, although they're depicted as monsters, most lizards are not dangerous to humans. If you're looking for more information on lizards, and how they're not actually a menace to society, continue reading below! 

Lizards Have Some Amazing Features

Now that it's clear that lizards are not dangerous (as long as you're not heading to Komodo Island). We can talk more about how helpful they are to society. 

Some lizards can walk on water, and others can shoot blood out of their eyeballs to frighten predators. There are even species of lizard that can reproduce without a mate! 

Geckos And Their Sticky Toes

Gecko

Geckos are known in the lizard community for their ability to climb a vertical surface with ease. This is because of the tiny hairs on the bottom of their feet, which attract molecules and help them cling to any surface. 

Research into the hairs on gecko's feet have led to a wide variety of technological advances in the adhesive industry. Including new adhesives for wet environments and  surgical bandages. In fact, the gecko's proprietary foot hairs have inspired new ways to climb up builds, and tech that helps build prosthetics! 

The Chameleon's Inspirational Colors

Chameleon
Chameleon

Until recently, it was thought that the reason a chameleon changed color was for camouflage. In reality, the reason they change colors is to reflect their emotions, and send messages to chameleons around them. 

It was also thought that chameleons change color by pigment alterations, although that has been disproven. Actually, these cold-blooded pets have special cells that contain nanocrystals under their skin. They act as tiny prisms and help the chameleon change color. 

As of recently, scientists have begun studying the chameleon's special cells to try to create better surface technology, including appliances that are non-reflective. 

Lizards And Lyme Disease

California shows an incredibly low incidence of Lyme disease, mostly due to a certain lizard species that lives there. The Western Fence Lizard, which is native to California, has a protein in their blood that kills the Lyme-causing bacteria in ticks. 

Although the abundance of ticks is linked to a large population of lizards, the ticks are rendered relatively harmless to humans when the Lyme-causing bacteria is killed! 

Green Blood

Some lizards have green blood because of biliverdin, a waste product that is toxic to humans, but tolerable to lizards. 

While scientists aren't sure how lizards are able to survive with biliverdin in their systems, they suspect it could have applications in humans. Specifically, could this information be used to treat blood conditions like malaria or jaundice? Over time, they could figure out the answer. 

Potentially Harmful Lizards

Although we've determined these cold-blooded pets aren't usually dangerous, like any animal they can cause harm. 

The Link Between Lizards And Disease

Some lizards are known to carry salmonella, which can be transmitted through feces or urine. Salmonella can be very dangerous, with symptoms including diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. For individuals with a weakened immune system, salmonella can be fatal. 

Other than that, lizards normally do not carry any diseases. 

Lizards And Biting

Komodo Dragon

Like any animal, a lizard can bite if provoked. Normally, this is a defense mechanism that is used to escape from predators, although they can bite humans if provoked. 

That being said, lizards will usually give a sign that they're about to bite. This often comes in the form of an open mouth and a hissing noise, which should encourage you to back away. 

Lizard bites for humans are generally harmless. There are only a few species of lizard that are venomous. In the United States, the only venomous lizard is the gila monster, which is found in southern US states and parts of Mexico. 

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